Best Things to Do in Reykjavik Iceland Year-Round

 
Iceland is one of my favorite countries and its capital city, Reykjavik, is a big reason why. Featuring a city center that’s easily walkable, Reykjavik is truly a charming, quaint discovery waiting for you to explore! To help facilitate your journey, I’m sharing my favorite, fun things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland. From museums to iconic landmarks, there are so many activities within the city as well as day trips you can take making your choices of things to do in Reykjavik endless!

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Reykjavik Iceland's Hallgrimskirkja church photographed through a metal outliner in the shape of the church

Things to Do in Reykjavík

Among the many fantastic qualities that Reykjavik has, one of the best is the people are extremely friendly, and most (just about all) speak English. This makes it even easier to take advantage of all the awesome things to do in Reykjavik!

1 | Hallgrímskirkja

  • Rear view of Reykjavik Iceland's Hallgrimskirkja church down a black walkway surrounded by colorful fall foliage
  • Looking straight up to the top of Reykjavik Iceland's Hallgrimskirkja church against a blue, cloudless sky

Probably my favorite landmark in the Icelandic capital, Hallgrímskirkja is a 244-foot tall Lutheran church and the largest church in the country. Relatively newer (completed in the 1980s), it can be seen throughout the city and is known for its stunning, unique architecture which captures Iceland’s mountains, glaciers, and basalt columns featured in some of its waterfalls.

  • View from the top of Reykjavik Iceland's Hallgrimskirkja with colorful buildings and the bay in the background
  • Another view of the colorful buildings, bay, and snowcapped mountains of Reykjavik from the top of Hallgrimskirkja
TIP: Go to the top of the church (fee applies) for beautiful views and photos of Reykjavík. Also, the fall is a gorgeous time to see the church with all of the colorful foliage. Don’t miss going around to the back for an often-missed view at the end of the long walkway.

2 | Colorful Street Art

  • Side of a building with an aquatic themed mural painted in blues, greens, and aquas
  • Artistic pattern painted on the black sidewalk in Reykjavik Iceland
  • Wall mural in Reykjavik Iceland painted in slate blues, grays, and lavenders
  • Black and white mural painted on a corner shop in Reykjavik Iceland

If you are a fan of street art, take some time to wander around Reykjavik and check out its colorful, artistic scene. Wandering through the streets is a great way to discover hidden gems you might not otherwise find.

3 | Harpa Concert Hall

The Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik Iceland with colorful glass windows against a dark, cloudy sky

Also featuring the basalt columns of Icelandic landscapes is the glass exterior of Harpa Concert Hall. A conference center as well, Harpa is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. In addition, The Icelandic Opera also performs here.

TIP: Harpa is particularly beautiful at night as it lights up and changes colors against the dark sky.

4 | Museum Hop

A shapely mug that says "Drink but don't bite" from The Icelandic Phallological Museum in Rekjavik

Take advantage of the many museums Reykjavik has to offer. There are traditional types such as The National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Whales of Iceland, and Reykjavik Art Museum. Then there are the more unique ones such as The Icelandic Punk Museum and The Icelandic Phallological Museum. Regardless of your choice, they are definitely worth exploring.

TIP: Museums make an excellent indoor activity. Iceland’s weather changes frequently. If it’s rainy, windy, or snowing, check out a museum. The weather will likely change in 5 minutes and be totally different by the time you come out!

5 | Sun Voyager

  • View of Sun Voyager in Reykjavik Iceland with the bay and snowcapped mountains in the background
  • Side view of Sun Voyager at dusk with the bay in the background

The Solfarid or Sun Voyager at Reykjavik’s waterfront is truly unique. Meant to be designed as a “dreamboat”, artist Jón Gunnar Árnason aimed to convey a dream of hope and the promise of undiscovered territory. Set against a stunning backdrop of the bay and Mount Esja, it is an ode to the sun. Contrary to popular belief, it does not represent a Viking ship but one can see why it’s a common misconception!

TIP: I highly recommend seeing the Sun Voyager in both daytime and at blue hour (the twilight hour after sunset when everything takes on a blue hue). The dramatic lighting changes are well worth it!

6 | Kolaportið 

Another good rainy day thing to do in Reykjavik and a great place to grab good eats and shop is at Kolaportið, Iceland’s only flea market. You can find almost anything from Icelandic handmade goods to fermented shark, a delicacy in Iceland.

TIP: Kolaportið is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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 7 | Northern Lights

Two people crouching down photographing the green northern lights outside of Reykjavik Iceland

If you are visiting Iceland solely for the northern lights, it could be a disappointing trip. Although they can be seen in Iceland, ideal viewing conditions aren’t common. However, if you are lucky, hopefully, you will get a chance (or three in my case) to see them and they won’t disappoint.

A night tour from Reykjavik is popular and there are a few options to choose from. Also, here are some tips for photographing the Icelandic northern lights!

8 | Whale Watching & Puffin Tours

Whale Tail just before it disappears in the water with snowcapped mountains in the background

While tours are offered year-round from Reykjavik, the whale watching season in Iceland is primarily April through October with peak months being June-August. Although I have gone whale watching in many places including Hawaii and Alaska, Iceland is just on a different level.

Conversely, puffin season is only in summer with peak months May to August. Returning to Iceland to see and photograph puffins is a priority bucket list item!

9 | Blue Lagoon

Tall white rectangle entrance sign to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland against a pink and blue cloudy sky

One of the most iconic places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. It’s especially popular upon arrival in Iceland or prior to an international departure. Reservations or tours need to be made well in advance especially if you need a specific day and time. If you are wondering how to plan your day, check out my Blue Lagoon tour.

10 | Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir shopping is a favorite pastime of so many travelers. Iceland has a lot to offer and there are many little stores scattered all over Reykjavik that are definitely worth popping into. A few popular souvenirs are Icelandic skin products, Icelandic liquor, and Icelandic wool. I found the cutest Icelandic wool sweater dress that I love to wear in the winter!

TIP: Icemart and Kolaportið are two great places for souvenir shopping.

11 | Horseback Riding

View while riding an Icelandic horse

In my opinion, the Icelandic horse is one of the prettiest animals on earth. Often mistakenly called a pony due to its smaller height, the Icelandic horse is sturdy, friendly, and full of personality. Whether you’re into horses or not, riding Icelandic horses is a beautiful experience and one that should be experienced on a day trip from Reykjavik.

12 | Silfra

Under water shot of me (Heather) in a dry suit snorkeling Silfra with a GoPro in my hand

There are many opportunities of a lifetime in Iceland but perhaps the most unique is snorkeling Silfra. This fissure is the only place in the entire world you can snorkel, dive, or swim between two tectonic plates. How cool is that? And yes, it can be done as a day trip from Reykjavik-that’s how I did it!

TIP: I highly recommend DIVE.IS for a fantastic experience. Also, if snorkeling, you will wear a dry suit so be sure to pack those thermals. The water is 36 degrees year-round!

13 | Hlemmur Mathöll

Speckled plate with a white ceramic bowl of Icelandic lamb soup with veggies and a piece of bread on the side

Calling all foodies! Reykjavik’s Hlemmur Mathöll is Iceland’s first food hall. Their motto is “all kinds of food for all kinds of people” and they feature everything from Vietnamese to Mexican to Icelandic. I grabbed a few different treats including lamb soup with veggies and it was incredible! If you are a foodie, this should most definitely be on your Reykjavik itinerary.

Visit Iceland
  • In summer (June and July are peak months) to see puffins
  • In winter (best November-January) to see the northern lights
  • In mid to late fall (October/November) to have a chance at seeing fall foliage colors and the northern lights
  • In October, November, March, and April for lower prices and fewer crowds

Iceland Recommended Stays & Eats

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Hopefully, these many things to do in Reykjavik pique your interest and help shape your visit to the Icelandic capital. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this charming city as well as all of Iceland in general!

Do you have any questions about these things to do in Reykjavik? Have you done any of them or do you have any other suggestions? Please let me know in the comments below!

‘Til next time…

Trimm Travels,

Heather

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